There is little in the world that can match the wondrous and surreal beauty of Jordan. The country, an oasis in the heart of a tumultuous region, is a fascinating melting pot of ancient structures, wild and mysterious natural reserves, and exotic tastes that thrill the senses.
While it’s true that Jordan often takes a backseat to more popular neighboring tourist spots like Egypt and Israel, its dramatic landscapes and rich culture has earned it a following among more adventurous travelers worldwide. If you’re searching for a destination that will let you experience a vibrant world that’s totally different from your own, this is the place for you.
Things to do
Explore the“The Lost City” of Petra
For hundreds of years, the ruins of this prehistoric city in Jordan sat undiscovered by the world at large. Tucked away in the heart of the harsh desert, the capital of the Nabataean Empire was re-discovered in the 1800s, becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the new seven wonders of the world. It’s now one of the most popular archaeological sites in the planet.
If you find yourself in Jordan, Petra should definitely be on your hit list. Located 240 kilometers south of Jordan’s capital Amman, this is truly the country’s greatest tourist draw. The trail winds to the Siq, a jaw-dropping gorge with towering rock walls on either side and the sight of the famous Treasury visible through it. Royal tombs, monuments and other ruins are spread throughout the ancient city. Most visitors simply walk through Petra leisurely, but some opt to ride camels or donkeys.
Take your Indiana Jones-esque journey one step further and sign up for the hauntingly beautiful night tour to the Treasury with only candlelight illuminating your way.
Ride a camel through Wadi Rum
Escape the daily grind and make your way to the vast wilderness of Wadi Rum where signs of life are rare but otherworldly nature surrounds you. Massive slopes of granite and sandstone rise from long expanses of sandy desert. Come closer to these great mountains and canyons – Khaz’ali Canyon, in particular – to see ancient drawings crudely etched onto the rocks.
Travelers sometimes choose to spend the night in one of the camps in the Wadi Rum. If you have the option to do so, schedule a camel ride or jeep tour during sunrise to experience an extra-beautiful traverse through the still desert.
Visit the Dead Sea
Another famous tourist attraction in the region is the Dead Sea, which actually straddles the borders of Jordan and Israel. This popular body of water is easy enough to access from Amman, even if it’s just for a road trip. It’s a magical place; the lowest point on earth at 408 meters below sea level.
Seeing the electric blue hue of the waters is reason enough to go, but why visit this world famous lake – yes, it’s a lake and not a sea – if you’re not going to take a dip? A photo of tourists floating on their back is practically tradition on the shores of the Dead Sea. The experience might even be good for the body as the extra salty and mineral-rich waters of the lake has long been renowned for its healthy and skin-friendly properties.
Try the World-class Diving in Aqaba
Sure, roughly 80 percent of the country is extreme desert, but Jordan also features some of the best dive sites in the region in Aqaba. Wreck diving at the busy Cedar Pride wreck could grant visiting divers a glimpse of sea turtles amidst the vibrant artificial reef. For advanced divers, the Power Station Dropoff is a must-see. While conditions have to be perfect to just get the opportunity to dive here, it is a stunning drop off with giant morays and black coral within arm’s reach.
Tourists who do not have their diving license can simply snorkel the waters. The Japanese Garden is a colorful shallow reef that is home to turtles, barracuda and countless of other reef fish.
Where to Stay
Tourists who have planned trips to the northern part of the country often choose the capital Amman as their base. Luxury seekers can book a suite at the Four Seasons Amman ($260), which sits atop one of one of Amman’s highest hills. If you want to be a stone’s throw away from Petra, Mövenpick Resort Petra ($265) is just outside the gates of the lost city and can be a very convenient jump-off point for tourists.
The hot springs in Ma’In is another popular stop in Jordan and the Ma’In Hot Springs Resort & Spa ($181) is one of the best reasons to make this part of your itinerary. Tucked away like an oasis deep in the canyons, it’s a beautifully surreal luxury experience where you can soak in the soothing waters surrounded by rugged nature.
In Aqaba, the coastal center of the country, Kempinski Aqaba ($228) offers five-star treatment with a private beach and an infinity swimming pool for those who prefer to stay within the grounds. It has a convenient location near the center of the city.
The best time to visit Jordan is from April and May.
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